Photo of Gary S. Guzy

Gary Guzy brings thirty five years of experience in environmental law, regulation, and public policy. He provides counsel to industry leaders in the transportation, energy, technology, and consumer sectors on emerging environmental and clean energy issues. He is skilled at creating strategic partnerships that bring together diverse groups to resolve challenging public policy controversies through close work with industry and environmental community leaders. Mr. Guzy co-chairs the firm’s Energy Industry Group.

Mr. Guzy served as Deputy Director and General Counsel of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In this position, he helped develop and guide the Obama Administration’s environmental, public health, and clean energy agenda, bringing business insights to government policy and coordinating policy across government agencies. He spearheaded negotiations that achieved the Obama Administration’s agreement to double motor vehicle fuel efficiency standards and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions with the support of automobile manufacturers, states, labor unions, environmental and consumer groups, and Congress. Mr. Guzy also led CEQ’s efforts to modernize permitting and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, and counseled federal agencies on how to fulfill their NEPA obligations for dozens of high profile decisions and assisted in resolving NEPA controversies at numerous complicated sites.

Mr. Guzy served as General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Counselor to the EPA Administrator during the Clinton Administration. He was a member of the Administrator’s senior policy team, setting regulatory, legislative, and communications strategy. He led efforts to design regulatory approaches to protect children’s environmental health, develop and defend new air quality and motor vehicle standards, defend EPA from Congressional oversight investigations, and protect iconic ecosystems such as the Everglades and Yellowstone National Park. He also authored climate change opinions that were later ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark decision finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants under federal law.

Mr. Guzy has also served as the chief legal officer, sustainability officer, and climate strategist for a variety of business organizations

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (“COP”) in Glasgow has drawn to a close, with seemingly mixed messages and a somewhat ambiguous conclusion, it is worth reflecting on the overall trajectory of the climate issue, societal expectations, and the accomplishments that — with time — Glasgow is likely to represent.  COP26 highlighted the fragility of the planet, as well as the fragility of the global consensus-based United Nations approach to protecting it.  It highlighted the sweep of global climate-induced challenges and the scale of transformation needed to address them.  With rising temperatures has come a rising global focus on climate and a far greater set of emerging societal expectations for meaningful responses by government and the private sector.  Despite the risk that the global agreement forged in Glasgow is seen by climate activists as all talk and no action — what they referred to as “blah, blah, blah” — I believe that a number of features will endure as important accomplishments.

Continue Reading Report from Glasgow COP26: Assessing the United Nations Climate Conference

On July 17, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published a Final Rule updating regulations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Final Rule closely tracks the Proposed Rule released in January 2020. The final rule makes a number of notable changes to existing NEPA regulations.
Continue Reading CEQ Finalizes NEPA Rule Updating Regulations

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia announced this week a new regional initiative to cap and reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the transportation sector.  Much remains to be decided before the program takes effect, however.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C.[1] aim to cap carbon emissions from combustion of transportation fuels, and invest the proceeds into low-emission and improved transportation infrastructure, including by aiding electric vehicle adoption, and increasing public transit and biking opportunities.
Continue Reading Northeast States to Tackle Transportation GHG Emissions

As more companies recognize the value of enhanced sustainability reporting and publicize the positive environmental features of their products and services, they should also be attentive to greater public scrutiny of “green” claims.  Companies that engage in greenwashing – asserting exaggerated, misstated, or immaterial environmental claims – are increasingly exposed to reputational damage and legal battles, as regulators, investors, and civil society actors dedicate more resources to scrutinizing environmental claims.  Companies also face growing pressure from investors to publish standardized and rigorous sustainability information that allows for cross-industry benchmarking.
Continue Reading Companies Face Greater Scrutiny for Misleading Environmental Claims and Nonstandard Sustainability Reporting

On May 21, 2015, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Obama Administration’s Spring Unified Agenda, providing greater details about the President’s strategy to rely on executive actions for carrying out his energy and environmental initiatives. The agenda’s release—specifying the upcoming actions that the Administration will be taking by regulation—comes at a

The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently issued updated draft guidance on how federal agencies should consider greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the attendant impacts on climate change when conducting environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  CEQ simultaneously released related, final guidance on conducting programmatic NEPA reviews.  While these actions

Regardless of your perspective on the subject, expect significantly increasing media and public attention around climate change and greenhouse gas emissions this week.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is convening a Climate Summit on Tuesday in conjunction with the meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.  More than 120

In a move designed to provide greater certainty to those purchasing, selling, or evaluating industrial or commercial properties, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed to remove any lingering effect of ASTM International’s E1527-05, a nine-year-old industry standard practice for evaluating potentially contaminated sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

As

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States again delved into the world of climate change and greenhouse gas regulation, hearing oral argument in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA.  It is perhaps fitting that the Court’s consideration happened on the very same day that Congressman John Dingell announced that he would be retiring after nearly sixty years in the House of Representatives and having taken up the mantle of a balanced approach to environmental regulation during his tenure as the longest serving House Member in history. For it was Congressman Dingell who presciently warned back in 2008 of the “glorious mess” that could ensue if Congress did not take on and create a customized legislative approach to addressing climate change, but instead left these issues to regulatory action.  All sides in yesterday’s argument would likely agree that the issues under consideration are indeed somewhat “messy”,  due in large measure to the difficult challenge of fitting existing Clean Air Act authorities to crafting a comprehensive and reasonable solution to the unique problems posed by climate change.

The Court examined the planned next steps by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.  Building upon its 2009 finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and the environment and its consequent regulation of automotive sector emissions, EPA in 2010 developed a suite of permitting rules for stationary sources of carbon emissions, such as refineries, manufacturing facilities, and power plants.  Yesterday’s argument focused on whether EPA permissibly concluded that stationary sources of such emissions had to be regulated through state-administered permit programs under the Clean Air Act as a necessary consequence of this prior treatment of greenhouse gases as pollutants.  The challenge facing EPA, though, is that the statute is designed with conventional sources of pollution in mind, and contains explicit thresholds reflecting those kinds of pollutants in requiring that larger emitting new facilities install the “best available control technology.”  In the case of greenhouse gases, however, those thresholds could subject potentially millions of facilities to permitting requirements due to the high rate and pervasive character of greenhouse gas emissions — an admittedly unworkable outcome.  So EPA crafted an administrative approach to “tailor” the permitting requirements to a more manageable and focused number of sources — those emitting 100,000 tons of carbon each year, rather than the statutory limits of 100 or 250 tons per year, depending on the affected industry.

A range of petitioners challenged the decision of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that upheld EPA’s predicate finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and the environment, EPA’s and the Department of Transportation’s regulation of motor vehicle emissions, and EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting rules.  The en banc Court of Appeals likewise did the same, although that consideration yielded a dissent focused on EPA’s lack of authority to rewrite the permitting thresholds.  Despite a broad challenge to the Court of Appeals’ holdings, the Supreme Court allowed much of EPA’s construct to stand by declining to grant certiorari on most of the issues raised.  The question for argument yesterday was limited to whether the EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of motor vehicles necessarily triggered new permitting requirements for greenhouse gases from stationary sources.

Having seen this issue unfold over many years during my tenure at the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality and earlier at EPA, upon hearing yesterday’s oral argument I was particularly struck by several features, including:


Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Explores the “Glorious Mess” — Can the Clean Air Act Provide a Comprehensive and Orderly Solution to Climate Change?

Tonight’s State of the Union highlighted that energy and environmental issues will continue to play a central role in the Washington agenda over the next year.  From the President’s early reference to workers building fuel efficient cars, to his extensive discussion of next steps on energy and the environment, it is clear that the President